Basia, DevSum and my first talk in English

Once upon a time this DevSum conference happened in Stockholm. It’s annual thing and this year it was exactly 21-23 of May. I didn’t recognize it much previously, because you know… I’m not Swedish, but it was supposed to be a big deal and as a person who was there month ago, I can tell you it really is. First heard about it months before from Michał, who was invited there with Rafał to perform a talk about passion. But I didn’t even suspected then to also get invited to the event. So… First of all I need to give my thanks to Tibi. He’s one of the organizers and the reason I was at the conference. How come? We talked a little bit during CraftConf and he offered to try to get me a slot, if one of the speakers – Greg Young or Ben Hall don’t have a chance to perform. Well… I like to joke now, that because Greg wasn’t available, I was the second choice Smile Hence – this blog post. You’ll find here some information about the event itself and sessions. But first things first…


First evening there was speakers dinner planned. Of course plenty of people had met before it happened. Me and Jake landed around 4 pm, got to our hotel and headed straight to this beforeparty. While drinking delicious flowers flavored Swedish beer, I’ve met tons of people. This all almost didn’t happen, because during the actual dinner, I was annexing and was totally annexed by Rob. Good conversation though – I really had a great time. But… no regrets when he left after couple of hours, because this gave me the chance to spend some time with others. Party moved back to the hotel and lasted really long. I’ve been at plenty of conferences but I’m still naive and never learn, that when you’re up all night, it’s really really hard to focus on any talk the next day. But also that it’s extremely tough to perform your own. So… maybe next time I’ll remember about that? Nah… Smile For me next day was less stressful, so I could really chill out in the evening. Mainly because my talk was behind me already. There was a party there at the conference venue with some food and drinks. Weather was just great and allowed us to stay at the balcony of some sort and enjoy beautiful view at Stockholm city. And the place speaks for itself. After some time (10pm and still bright like it’s 5pm in some normal country) a subgroup of speakers (including me) separated. First we’ve headed the IceBar. I was in a dress and when Paul realized my outfit, I heard from him: You’ll be f…(reaking) cold. Yeah… he was right! It was ridiculously freezing, but also I was in such a good mood, that I survived it pretty easily. Seriously, I haven’t had so much fun in years. Everybody were tired that day, but nonetheless party lasted long again. This time I really needed to catch up with some sleeping and got maybe whole… 2h of it. So next day I headed the conference venue around noon and spent most of it getting tanned outside in the sun. Conference I knew the venue is a theatre of some sort, but didn’t expected what I got. It was actual theatre with the stage and stuff. I didn’t get the chance to perform there, because some of the talks had to take place in smaller rooms or even separate buildings, but still – awesome. Shame though it was so hard to get to the speakers lounge – it was on the end of the world guarded by trolls and 2 pin codes. So neither me or anybody I know came there. Because of stress, partying and early flight the second day of the conference, I attended only three talks. So… you know what’s next Smile

Ben Hall – Embracing “Startup life” and learning to think “The startup way”

First of all it was a miracle that I was up this early (10am) after sleeping maybe for half an hour. I was planning to lay in the sun trying to catch up, but Polish guys gathered me from the outside to see this presentation. How was it? Really nice (it’s similar to fine). Especially because I usually reject (it’s like physical reaction) most of the startup buzzwords and ideas, and it wasn’t the case this time. The baseline was straightforward and not so pompous. Also we had some laughs with guys while sitting in the audience and referring what Ben said to enterprise (theirs) and startup (my) realities. I also understood most of it – not like on DevDay for example. Basically it was fun, well prepared (yeah, I know he claims he doesn’t do that Smile) , and told from experience. And maybe if I didn’t know better how startup life look like, I’d be tempted to live it. Great catchphrase though: Easier to go from shit to great, that from nothing to greatness.

Niall Merrigan – From attendee to presenter , managing technical presentations

Great talk! Planned, interesting, well prepared, even better performed. Niall did his research, had plenty of talks, and really knew what he was talking about. And it was about presentation giving, preparation to them and performing them. It pointed out some mistakes and wrong habits. Because it was mostly focused on IT talks, rules were not only for the person who is presenting and slides, but also for coding demos. There was even an exercise for some people in the audience. But it was a mistake for me to watch it. My talk was supposed to be next, and Niall pointed out as a mistake almost everything I had prepared. No, I’m exaggerating but still, there were so many things to improve… From proper font on presentation, trough abusing our “favorite words”, to being well prepared. He said you should record yourself or practice in front of the mirror. Oh my – I can’t do it yet. I was literally terrified at the end… but will write later how it went.

Michał & Rafał – Passion makes the world go round

Some people were interested in listening to two guys from Poland that created one of the best IT conferences in Europe. I know them both and can say for sure, that passion is their way of living. So to tell the whole truth – I was a bit disappointed. I mean it wasn’t a bad presentation, but it seemed like they were talking about the passion … without it. As ones said to me at the conference, when I shared my opinion – probably I’m just jealous and hard to pleased. This is probably true. If you read my previous posts, you know there weren’t many talks I recommend. On the good site – the topic was theirs – they really owned it. They DID organized the conference against many obstacles and without the passion they have, this wouldn’t be possible.

And how was my talk?

First of all, as I said previously, I was terrified. Second it was like 5 minutes to my presentation and the room was almost empty. The only people there were me, technical guy and 2-3 people who knew me and wanted to hear me speaking for the first time. It was good and bad at the same time. Then something changed… There were attendees coming and in few minutes I had a room full of them. My colleagues even got up to stay at the back to make some seats free. Wow, I thought then, that’s the challenge, and… just started. Still, I was really nervous, couldn’t find proper words in English, and was a bit shaking. I managed to warm up the audience while introducing myself – after all this is my favorite topic Smile. And I almost lost them while live coding. But fortunately it passed when… I started being funny. And the best part is, that I hadn’t even planned it before. Feedback? I actually had people coming to me after and saying that it was the best talk so far. Yay! Rarely felt better after one. After some time I got also some rough numbers, and was pleasantly surprised. My sense of humor has been appreciated and people wrote that they got real value form the topic of presentation. In my head I have some things I need to work on though:

  • Use my voice more consciously – different tones, different volume
  • Remember to repeat questions, when asked from the audience
  • Have better slides – especially bigger font, because currently text is barely visible from the last rows
  • Be more mobile, not just stay in one place
  • Talk more while live coding
  • Actually prepare for the talk Smile
  • Stop saying “actually” all the time (and there was this second word there… but it’s not meant for public)

For me this was a great conference, but I barely survived it, because of some physical limitations of mine. I really need sleep. Additionally stress was eating me all the time, till the moment I had presentation. But it all passed and after I came back, what was left was amazing memories, new people not only in my facebook/twitter account, but also in my heart and feeling that life can be really awesome.

Queen of the comfort zone, how did I get out

Well… I’ve decided to change my life. Again. What changes do I have in mind? I don’t know that yet Uśmiech I’m going to write today about Basia’s Revolutionary Road and how it evolved through time. Everything started like a year ago. And some things that happened during this period have already transformed my life. Or maybe it was me who has changed? Not sure about that either. Let me invite you into the journey of my life transformation.

Dear diary…

A year ago I was really fed up with IT world. Actually I wanted to quit. For real.

I honestly didn’t care about programming, technologies, news or conferences. I felt frustrated, exhausted, without hope and bored … Wait! I’m never bored. So this was a real sign. I needed a change – revolution to be honest. But… I chickened out. I said to myself regular excuses – like that I don’t have money and do have a loan to pay. So I really cannot switch to any other industry, without resigning from my current life standard. Don’t get me wrong – it all was true. I really needed to have something that allow me to earn some money, so at this time, this meant I needed a job.

So I started to think about getting new one, in which I could have a chance to really care about what I’m working on, to actually do something valuable. First thought was about starting my own coaching business, but those were just plans, distant future. At this point I thought the only option I had, was getting back to IT. I made a promise to myself though: I cannot do the same stuff I was doing for 9 years. So this is how I turned to Base. I never dig that startup/unicorn/changing the world attitude, but what I knew for sure, was that their real and most important values are the product and the client. This was something I truly needed. Something radically different than I had a chance to experience.

Ego polishing

There was another thing I decided that time – I really craved to start doing more talks, to speak in front of people, at conferences and meetups. If you know me at all, you probably know that deep in my heart, in my core ME, I am a star Uśmiech I love to shine, brag and act the wisest person in a room. But there was a problem – I was Ms nobody then. There was even one day (actually during the recruitment process to Base), when I used my speech at 4developers from 2009 to brag about my teaching skills. Somebody asked me then, why I don’t do this more often. This remark made me feel a bit ashamed. It was like someone pointing out Why aren’t you doing this thing you always wanted to do?. So finally I decided to really live my life (at least in that area), stop whining and actually go for it.

So a little bit later, with big help from one of my friends, I got some speakers gigs. If you read my blog, or follow me on Twitter, you know how well it went and still is.

Successful woman

People are awesome – I hear it far too often. Personally I think this phrase doesn’t mean anything. It’s even a bit offensive. Everyone wants to be special, and when you say that, you’re basically claiming no one is. Ok, maybe when we talk about general beliefs I can admit people are great, but I don’t know them all, do you? And how can I say so without getting to know them better. And how well can I do this when I usually meet them only during conferences or in a bus or on a street. I don’t even mention about my lack of social skills (yes, yes, this changed also, but I will talk about it later). Aghhhh… And last but not least – getting to know people is so complicated, time and effort consuming, so why bother if the reward is maybe 5% chance that I’ll meet somebody interesting? After all I was happy with my old, boring but well known myself, in my apartment, far away from others. And when I got a bit lonely I could always catch up with someone using this cool new thing called the internet.

Surprisingly something changed one day . I gave a chance to people, because I did it to one person. And there … there was like a flood after that point. And people were responding to the changes that happened in me. Of course they mostly didn’t know there were any changes. I not only have met tons of people, but I actually have built real connections, friendships even.

Yeah… My name is Basia and I’m no longer asocial person!

But lately I often hear that I’m a successful woman. I go for all those conferences, have a great job, am single (so that basically gives me the right to do what I want). But to tell you the truth, those are only shallow aspects. They are nice, I like them very very much, but I could really live without them. They don’t define me and to be honest aren’t my real success. So what is it then? Yeah… as it is hard to say for me – people, or maybe to be closer to the truth – relations with people. Deep, meaningful, absorbing and often funny. This is my biggest success in my life – I touch people and what’s more important, I allow them to touch me.

So… are all people awesome? Sure, but maybe to some other people … ? Don’t get me wrong again – they probably are, but there is only some number of them I can handle and get to know deep enough to say so.

What now?

First of all I quit my job. Last Monday. Base was a great employer, with awesome people (yeah, yeah, shut up Uśmiech), working environment, and a place where I could really grow. But at this stage of my life, I’m looking for something even more. It will be hard to beat that, because they really spoiled me Uśmiech I was thinking about it for some time, since I realized that I really don’t care enough about the stuff we were working on. And in Base commitment and faith in product, in work you do, is crucial.

First I noticed that when I switched to the new project where there were lots of things to figure out, including what Basia likes the most – architecture layers, pattern choosing, DA approach, using proper ORM tool. Guys were discussing those topics and I was like… what are you talking about? It’s just wrong what you’re deciding now. But… I didn’t tell anything. I just thought Why bother?

This was the moment I knew it’s over. After all shining and to convincing people that they are wrong is something I really love. And it wasn’t like that that moment. Why? This wasn’t a fault of the project, team or company. It’s just not right time and place for me right now.

Excuses? Just stop it!

Now is the moment when I can shape my life however I want it to look like. Actually wrong – now is the moment when I know there is always a good time to do it. You may probably think that it’s easy for me to do it. I’m single, so no family to support. I also have 10 years of experience in IT, I’m intelligent and really good at my job (haha, a least I hope you think that Uśmiech). I speak at conferences, and recently worked at this cool Cracow’s startup. So I’ll find a new job just like that. My Maslow’s physiological needs are fulfilled, so now I can have my childish first world problems, as finding myself and being picky.

That’s all true, but those are just excuses. For me making a decision like that wasn’t easy too. It’s a big (or even gigantic) deal. I was single, smart, and good at what I do for almost 10 years, but didn’t have the courage to do anything with my discontent. I also really don’t have any money. I may remind you somehow of Madonna, but I’m not a material girl Uśmiech So I do need to figure out the way to earn some and cannot have vacation all the time. Because as previously pointed out – also don’t have family to support me Uśmiech

Finally, remember – there is always a good time to start your own life! The one you really want to live. The hard part it to realize this and figure out what is this life you want to pull off. So if you’re miserable, please just stop it! Do something! Don’t be afraid. I tell you that – previous queen of the comfort zone. If you want to get a cool job – apply for it. If you wanna be better at what you do – spare some time and effort on it. If you want to speak at events – find something you want to share with others and send some papers when there is CFP open. Cliches? Maybe, but worked for me. And believe me – usually nothing works on my machine Uśmiech

As I previously noticed, life is not just about work. But actually changes in mine started with this area, when I realized it’s really important and first of all – time consuming part of my life. When I quit my job it became even more clear to me. Now I’m considering deeper changes that include city I’ll live in, starting my own company, but even to which parts of my life I want to devote evenings and weekends.

Control freak

However stupid that sounds – I’m a workaholic right now. Yes – even without a job. I’m programming during the evenings, go for conferences, write a blog, don’t have time for my family, think about … work all the time. That’s not healthy and will burn out soon – you know, because I actually don’t have a job any more Uśmiech. So what then? First of all I’m gonna need to figure out what to do with my free time. Find out again what I like and hate to do and start to use this spare time, even to the limit. After all I’m now leisure time lady.

But the most important task for me right now is learn how to have fun. Without drama, too much thinking and bad emotions. I had that once not long time ago (I’ll write it in the next post) so now I know I can do it more often.

Good news is I don’t have to figure out my core values – I’m sure of them, I know myself in that area pretty well. I know the answer to the question Who is Basia?. Those are other levels that I need to think of. Now I’m just happy and open for changes, because as we know this is the only stable thing in our lives.

Well… this is it – for now. I leave you like that, because this is basically how my life currently looks like. So, if you’re curious how it evolves in the future, consider reading more or/and following me on Twitter.